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Robert Campin, A Woman

Key facts
Full title A Woman
Artist Robert Campin
Artist dates 1378/9 - 1444
Series A Man and a Woman
Date made about 1435
Medium and support Oil with egg tempera on oak
Dimensions 40.6 × 28.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG653.2
Location Room 28
Collection Main Collection
A Woman
Robert Campin

This striking portrait of a woman forms a pair with Campin’s portrait A Man: the sitters were clearly married. We don't know who they were, but their clothes suggest they were prosperous townsfolk, perhaps from Tournai where Campin lived and worked.

Campin has conveyed their personalities and relationship as well as what they looked like. The woman appears younger than her husband, and more forceful and optimistic. Campin has placed her near eye in the centre of her panel so that she dominates the composition in a way her husband does not. Her skin is smooth, and her bright, wide-open eyes curve up at the corners, a movement echoed and amplified by the crisp folds of her headdress.

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A Man and a Woman


A man and a woman, clearly husband and wife, gaze towards each other. We don‘t know who they were, but their clothes, which are not excessively rich, suggest that they were relatively prosperous townspeople. The clarity and credibility of these portraits, which were designed as a pair, is astonishing – but they do more than reflect how the sitters looked.

Campin’s ability to convey textures of skin, fur and fabric means that we are not immediately aware of the skill with which he arranged the sitters’ clothes and even their features. These are highly ordered geometric compositions devised to show us what the couple were like: an older, world-weary man and a bright, optimistic young woman. The man slouches and the drooping lines of his face are echoed by his clothes; the woman’s skin is smooth, her eyes are bright and her features and clothes form rising lines.